Introduction to City of Nauvoo v. A. Spencer

Document Transcript

City of Nauvoo v. A. Spencer
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Mayor’s Court, 26 April 1844
 
City of Nauvoo v. A. Spencer
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Municipal Court, 3 June 1844
 
Historical Introduction
On 26 April 1844, JS presided in the , Illinois, mayor’s court over the prosecution of for the assault of his brother . The previous November, the brothers’ father, Daniel Spencer Sr., had died intestate. A bitter familial dispute followed, as Orson and his mother, Chloe, unsuccessfully opposed Augustine’s appointment as the estate’s administrator. The divide between the brothers was further complicated when Augustine, who unlike his mother and brother was not a Latter-day Saint, began associating with opponents of the church in Nauvoo. When visiting Orson’s home on or about 26 April, Augustine reportedly insulted his mother, as well as JS and , and allegedly choked his brother in the physical altercation that ensued.
reported the fight to JS, who on 26 April sent to apprehend , apparently without a warrant. Rockwell confronted Spencer at the law office of in , but after Spencer refused arrest, Rockwell called on Nauvoo city marshal for assistance. Greene was similarly unsuccessful. The marshal then requested three bystanders—, , and —to aid him in taking Spencer, but they refused to help unless the officer produced a warrant. Finally, the marshal left and asked JS for a warrant, which was granted. With warrant in hand, Greene detained Spencer and brought him before JS in the mayor’s court. JS then ordered Greene to arrest Higbee and the Fosters for their earlier refusal to assist the marshal. At the trial, JS convicted Spencer of breaching unspecified city ordinances “for assault,” fined him $100, and ordered him to enter into a to keep the peace.
appealed the conviction to the Municipal Court, in accordance with the city charter. , clerk of the municipal court, issued a writ of ordering the mayor’s court to stay JS’s decision, thereby suspending the lower court’s proceedings until the appeal was resolved. On 3 June 1844, the municipal court heard the appeal. JS, the chief justice, was not present, and was elected president pro tempore. When Spencer did not appear, the municipal court dismissed the appeal and assessed him the costs. Richards issued a writ of procedendo, ordering the mayor’s court to continue its efforts to collect the fine and enforce the . Spencer evidently never paid the costs.
 
Calendar of Documents
This calendar lists all known documents created by or for the court, whether extant or not. It does not include versions of documents created for other purposes, though those versions may be listed in footnotes. In certain cases, especially in cases concerning unpaid debts, the originating document (promissory note, invoice, etc.) is listed here. Note that documents in the calendar are grouped with their originating court. Where a version of a document was subsequently filed with another court, that version is listed under both courts.

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Willard Richards, clerk of the municipal court, inscribed the docket entry for the appeal by placing the appellant’s name, Spencer, first, and then identifying the city of Nauvoo as the respondent. Although not used by Richards in this case, abbreviations for ad sectam were often used when reversing the order of parties on record. (Docket Entry, 2 May–ca. 3 June 1844 [City of Nauvoo v. A. Spencer].)  

  2. 2

    Notice of Appeal, 2 May 1844.  

  3. 3

    Sadler and Sadler, “Augustine Spencer,” 33–34; “Deaths,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 29 Nov. 1843, [3].  

    Sadler, Richard W., and Claudia S. Sadler. “Augustine Spencer: Nauvoo Gentile, Joseph Smith Antagonist.” Mormon Historical Studies 12, no. 2 (Fall 2011): 27–46.

    Nauvoo Neighbor. Nauvoo, IL. 1843–1845.

  4. 4

    Sadler and Sadler, “Augustine Spencer,” 35.  

    Sadler, Richard W., and Claudia S. Sadler. “Augustine Spencer: Nauvoo Gentile, Joseph Smith Antagonist.” Mormon Historical Studies 12, no. 2 (Fall 2011): 27–46.

  5. 5

    Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 18, p. [12]; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 309; JS, Journal, 26 Apr. 1844.  

  6. 6

    Charles A. Foster, Nauvoo, IL, Letter to the Editor, 29 Apr. 1844, Warsaw (IL) Signal, 8 May 1844, [3]. JS evidently based his initial order for Rockwell to arrest Augustine Spencer on an 1841 Nauvoo ordinance that criminalized “ridiculing abusing, or otherwise depreciating another in consequence of his religion” and declared the convicted offender “a disturber of the public peace.” The ordinance further made it the duty of the mayor to have “all such violators” arrested, “either with or without process.” It is unknown why JS asked Rockwell, who is not known to have been a law officer at that time, to arrest Spencer. (Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 1 Mar. 1841, 13; Pleas, ca. 26 May 1844, C. A. Foster v. JS and Coolidge [Hancock Co. Cir. Ct. 1844], Circuit Court Files, Archives and Special Collections, Malpass Library, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL.)  

    Warsaw Signal. Warsaw, IL. 1841–1853.

    Archives and Special Collections. Malpass Library, Western Illinois University, Macomb.

  7. 7

    John P. Greene, “All Is Peace at Nauvoo among the Saints,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 1 May 1844, [3]; Charles A. Foster, Nauvoo, IL, Letter to the Editor, 29 Apr. 1844, Warsaw (IL) Signal, 8 May 1844, [3]; Pleas, ca. 26 May 1844, C. A. Foster v. JS and Coolidge [Hancock Co. Cir. Ct. 1844], Circuit Court Files, Archives and Special Collections, Malpass Library, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL.  

    Nauvoo Neighbor. Nauvoo, IL. 1843–1845.

    Warsaw Signal. Warsaw, IL. 1841–1853.

    Archives and Special Collections. Malpass Library, Western Illinois University, Macomb.

  8. 8

    John P. Greene, “All Is Peace at Nauvoo among the Saints,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 1 May 1844, [3]. After JS presided over the trial of Augustine Spencer, he held another trial for Higbee and the Fosters, fining them $100 each. (JS, Journal, 26 Apr. 1844; Introduction to City of Nauvoo v. C. L. Higbee et al.)  

    Nauvoo Neighbor. Nauvoo, IL. 1843–1845.

  9. 9

    Notice of Appeal, 2 May 1844; Docket Entry, 2 May–ca. 3 June 1844 [City of Nauvoo v. A. Spencer]; John P. Greene, “All Is Peace at Nauvoo among the Saints,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 1 May 1844, [3]; JS, Journal, 26 Apr. 1844. Spencer was presumably convicted for violating the city’s religious societies ordinance, which prohibited “ridiculing abusing, or otherwise depreciating another in consequence of his religion,” for his comments about JS and the church that preceded the assault. Conviction under this ordinance allowed the mayor to either fine the guilty party “any Sum not exceeding five hundred Dollars” or imprisonment “not exceeding six months.” JS also evidently convicted Spencer for violating the disorderly persons ordinance, which described “persons guilty of Profane or indecent language, or behaviour.” Upon conviction, the mayor could apply a number of punishments, including requiring the defendant “to enter into security for good behaviour for a reasonable time”; to perform labor “not exceeding ninety days”; to pay a fine “not exceeding five hundred Dollars”; or to “be imprisoned not exceeding six months.” (Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 13 Nov. 1841, 31; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 1 Mar. 1841, 13; see also Introduction to City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Assault; and Introduction to City of Nauvoo v. Hunter.)  

    Nauvoo Neighbor. Nauvoo, IL. 1843–1845.

  10. 10

    Notice of Appeal, 2 May 1844; Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840.  

  11. 11

    Docket Entry, 2 May–ca. 3 June 1844 [City of Nauvoo v. A. Spencer]; Notice of Appeal, 2 May 1844; JS, Journal, 3 June 1844; Nauvoo Municipal Court Docket Book, 102; Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840.  

    Nauvoo Municipal Court Docket Book / Nauvoo, IL, Municipal Court. “Docket of the Municipal Court of the City of Nauvoo,” ca. 1843–1845. In Historian's Office, Historical Record Book, 1843–1874, pp. 51–150 and pp. 1–19 (second numbering). CHL. MS 3434.

  12. 12

    Docket Entry, 2 May–ca. 3 June 1844 [City of Nauvoo v. A. Spencer].